Incumbent Erik Charles, 46, of Stockbridge, owns an insurance agency.
He attended Grambling (La.) State University and is pursuing a theology degree online from Lynchburg, Va.-based Liberty University.
Charles is engaged; from a previous marriage, he has one child who graduated from and one who attends Henry County Schools.
He is a three-term school board member, first elected in 2002.
Charles said the biggest problem facing the system is its 75.5 percent graduation rate.
“While our state and district’s graduation rate continues to improve, we still have more work to do to ensure that we are intellectually challenging and graduating more students,” he said. “One contributing factor to the graduation rate challenge is a lack of engaging and interactive instruction that does not include meaningful technology integration. If we do not adopt and consistently implement engaging instructional strategies, we will not sufficiently accelerate our graduation rate.”
Charles said he is the best person to tackle that problem because of his time in office and his rainmaking ability.
“My experience as an elected board of education member and my innovative, successful and ongoing efforts to identify grant and other funding opportunities for our district’s schools to enhance learning experiences for students are why I am the best candidate to tackle the graduation rate challenge,” he said.
Challenger Annette Edwards, 68, also of Stockbridge, is a 30-year former educator who retired from Fairview Elementary School in 2003.
She earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Florida Memorial University in Miami, Fla., in 1975, a master of science degree in administration and supervision from Nova University in Davie, Fla., in 1980 and an educational specialist degree from Clark Atlanta University in 1993.
Edwards is married with two adult children who attended DeKalb County schools.
This is her first run for elected office.
Her leadership experience includes directing faith-based summer camps in Decatur and vetting high-ranking officers for the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
Edwards said the most serious problem facing the school system is the need for stronger family and community involvement.
“When family, businesses and the community work together with the school system to motivate our children for academic and career success, it builds a more powerful bond with the school system as well as increases student success, community viability and more economic development,” she said.
Edwards said she is the best person for the job of making that happen.
“I would strive to become more accessible and increase my involvement in the community,” she said. “As a retired educator, I have a unique perspective.”